Musings of a Museum Fanatic: August 2014

8.29.2014

Pampered Chef Fall Products

One of my favorite parts of fall isn't that pumpkin is everything or even the fact that the leave get all crunchy. My favorite part is that it's the release of the new Pampered Chef Fall Products!! This season there are some great new kitchen workhorse products.


For a number of years now the 9x13 Rectangular Baker has been a mainstay in the Stoneware line. This season The Pampered Chef has developed two smaller bakers, The Small Rectangular Baker and the Medium Rectangular Baker, to help with your getting dinner on the table for your family or if your a smaller family you won't have to make huge meals. I earned the Small Rectangular baker earlier in the summer and we are loving it in our house.



The next new kitchen must have workhorse is a smaller 2qt. Rockcrok. This small guy has the same amazing features of the bigger ones but is perfect for side dishes, appetizers or smaller families. Doesn't that Easy Twice-Baked Potato Casserole look amazing? 


 The Round-Up From the Heart product is definitely a new one (at least since I can remember). This season they developed a lovely soup bowl. $1 from the sale of the bowl helps provide 9 meals secured by Feeding America® on behalf of local member food banks. $2 from the purchase of this bowl will be donated to Feeding America® to secure 18 meals for those in need. The Pampered Chef® will help secure a minimum donation of 4.5 million meals through the purchase of the bowl and other fundraising activities associated with the current Round-Up from the Heart® campaign.


This is the season of bringing back some oldie but goodie products. The three pictured above are the products I'm most excited about! From left to right: Toaster Tongs, Magic Mop and 3-Way Tongs. Mom has had the toaster tongs for yeeeaaaars and I always tell her how lucky she 
is that they haven't gone "missing" yet. Maybe If I threaten enough I'll get them in my Christmas stocking!


Speaking of Christmas ... The Pampered Chef has rolled out some of their staple holiday products along with some fabulous newbies. I love love love the Holiday Dots Square Bowl. It's not really a bowl more like a higher sided platter. My favorite dish to use it for is a brick of softened cream cheese and pour the Raspberry Habanero Sauce over it.  A-freakingmazing! 

These are a just a sampling of the fantastic new products head to my website to see the rest of them! Have lovely extended weekend!


8.26.2014

5 Songs About My Favorite City

I'm surprised that I've never shared some of my favorite songs about my favorite city ... Chicago! I know that most of them are pretty obviously about Chicago but you might not realize that the Smashing Pumpkins song is as well. Today I'm definitely going to play favorites and let you know that "Sweet Home Chicago" is by far my favorite of the group : )


"Chicago Is So Two Years Ago" by Fall Out Boy


"Sweet Home Chicago" by The Blues Brothers


"Tonight Tonight" by The Smashing Pumpkins


"The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace


"My Kind Of Town" by Frank Sinatra

What's your favorite song about your favorite city?!

8.20.2014

Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing


Play this while reading the post.

First off I'd like to apologize for the scatteredness of the past few weeks and the sometimes long breaks in-between posts. This past Monday my dad passed away. I hadn't shared what was going on with him since he was being pretty private about it. Back in January he was diagnosed with bladder cancer and about two and a half weeks he contracted a serious c diff infection in the hospital. Unfortunately he could not recover from it. 

I do not like to remember him in that manner and that's not the man I want to share with you today because that's not who he was. The past week and a half I've taken solace in looking through all the many photos I have of him and with him, along with laughing at the fact that so many of our iconic family photos we think are of all of us he's taking the photo.

That's him on the left with my Uncle Jim

My parents celebrated their 40th anniversary August 10th.




Even though I love my mom so incredibly much I am definitely still and always will be Dad's little princess. 




My Dad is an amazing man. In his professional career in the Lutheran church he is kind of a rock start. He was the first in his field to earn a PhD, throughout his entire career he has been a revolutionary when it comes to small group and youth ministry. Always ready to make a new friend, he was able to strike up meaningful conversation with everyone that crossed his path.

One of the things I will miss the most is not being able to go to him for advice. Actually advice is not the right term, he wouldn't just hear what I had to say and give his opinion. It was more like we'd talk over everything together and he would help me discover how I felt about the situation and what the best option for me was.


The title of my post is a phrase that Dad has said for the longest time. Even though I am still very sad and probably will be for a while I cannot keep the moments of the last two weeks in the front of my mind. The wonderful and special moments we've had throughout my life need to be the main thing. One must always be reminding themselves that they need to keep the main thing the main thing.

8.14.2014

Stephanie's Wish List

Betsy is out today, so I'm here instead.  I'm Steph, I blog over at Not Entirely Perfect.

3 days ago, I dropped a glass platter on the ground and it shattered into two thousand pieces that I'm still cleaning up.


And I'm sad, because I liked it.  A lot.  But that is the end of my story.  Let me start over.

So this one time, I hosted a Pampered Chef party, where Betsy brought over all her little kitchen gadgets. She even bought ingredients and showed everyone how to make fun dishes, that we then got to eat. Cocktails were consumed.  And it was a glorious time until I wanted $500 worth of products for my kitchen.  Who's got two thumbs and is very much not a chef outside of cupcakes?  This girl.  But there were so many more things than just cookware.  There were spices and drink mixes and serving platters.  Glass serving platters... I think you know where this is going.

Anyway, it was fun, having it in my own kitchen so I could stand there and browse the catalog. Since I could say things like 'ugh, you know what I need? A freaking can opener that doesn't drop the lid into the can. You know? Like it cuts around the outside and isn't a huge mess. They should make that.' And Betsy was all 'page 14.'  Le duh.

Well I ordered that can opener.  (Obsessed, by the way.)  And a 3 tiered display tray and citrus juicer and a bake tin for mini muffins and a trifle bowl and a cool food chopper thing which I still only used to chop cucumbers. And, a glass platter.  -__-

Seriously, I've been enjoying that damn platter! I may not be a cook but I'm a whiz at displaying things on platters... And I want a new one so I browsed the online catalog and found many new things since the last time I ordered so here I am, sharing my new wish list.
What's on yours?  Now, if you're like me, with a big wishlist, you can leave a comment here and Betsy will contact you about setting up a virtual party.  If you're a hostess like I was, either in person or virtually, you get special discounts and free things.  Can't argue with that!

8.13.2014

Free Chicago Museums

You might remember that I posted about Kevin and I getting our finances in order. Pinterest always has great tips on saving money on everything from gas to groceries, but we've also been learning that budgets don't mean your life has to be boring!  One of the perks to living near Chicago is all the free entertainment that's offered year round.  For me, especially, this means museums!


There's a lot of fun places you can visit that are completely free to enter. I love the Oriental Institute but lately I've been adding more places to my list to visit, all for free.

1. The Chicago Botanic Garden is just north of the city and a beautiful place to spend the day. Yes, it's a museum! An 'Illinois botanical museum' in fact. There's gorgeous gardens and waterways where you can learn all about the different flowers, butterflies and birds. They even offer a garden full of miniature trains and set up light displays at Christmastime. The Garden sits on 385 acres so you can be sure to see something different at every visit.

2. The Jane Addams Hull House is located in the city, right in the UIC campus. Jane Addams was the first woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize and she founded the Hull House to help new immigrants to the city. Although the building used to be much bigger (the entire city block) the museum is still maintained on the same property and has exhibits all about what life was like in Chicago in the early 1900s. And like I mentioned before, the Hull House is supposedly haunted! Spooky.

3. I think the historic water tower is really cool. It's one of the only buildings to survive the Great Chicago Fire and it's right in the middle of Michigan Avenue and all the shopping, so it's neat to see all on it's own. A little piece of history right in the middle of all the new high rises and technology, like time just stopped at this one spot. But it's also open to the public! There's always a set-up inside of a photographer's work. It's free to pop in any time you're in the area shopping anyway!

Another way to check out all the museums Chicago has to offer is watch the calendar of free days!  These are called Illinois Free Days.  Many of them are only available for Illinois residents, but there's also free and discount days for everyone else, and children's free days usually coincide with school vacations.  So although this can be a pretty expensive city to live in, watching your budget doesn't mean staying home every weekend.

8.12.2014

Tunes on Tuesday: To You, Robin Williams

To laugh and cry and remember my childhood.











You will be missed, Robin Williams.

8.08.2014

Ten Terrible Puns

While I was going through one of my email folders I encountered all the old chain type emails my mom used to send. I always saved the ones I thought were particularly humorous. This one with the top 10 from the International Pun contest. Happy weekend and don't forget to enter the giveaway!! 


1.    A vulture boards an airplane, carrying two dead raccoons.  The stewardess looks at him and says, "I'm sorry, sir, only one carrion allowed per passenger." 

2.    Two fish swim into a concrete wall. One turns to the other and says, "Dam!"

3.    Two Eskimos sitting in a kayak were chilly, so they lit a fire in the craft.  Unsurprisingly it sank, proving once again that you can't have your kayak and heat it too.

4.    Two hydrogen atoms meet.  One says, "I've lost my electron." The other says, "Are you sure?" The first replies "Yes, I'm positive."

5.    Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root  canal?  His goal: transcend dental medication.

6.    A group of chess enthusiasts checked into a hotel and were standing  in the lobby discussing their recent tournament victories.  After about an hour, the manager came out of the office and asked them to disperse.  "But why?", they asked, as they moved off.  "Because," he said, "I can't stand chess-nuts boasting in an open foyer."

7.    A woman delivers a set of identical twins and decides to give them up for adoption.  One of them goes to a family in Egypt and is named "Ahmal." The other goes to a family in  Spain ; they name him "Juan."  Years later, Juan sends a picture of himself to his birth mother.  Upon receiving the picture, she tells her husband that she wishes she also had a picture of Ahmal.  Her husband responds, "They're twins!  If you've seen Juan, you've seen Ahmal."

8.    A group of friars were behind on their belfry payments, so they opened up a small florist shop to raise funds.  Since everyone liked to buy flowers from the men of God, a rival florist across town thought the competition was unfair.   He asked the good fathers to close down, but they would not.  He went back and begged the friars to close.  They ignored him. So, the rival florist hired Hugh MacTaggart, the roughest and most vicious thug in town to "persuade" the friars to close.  Hugh beat up the friars and trashed their store, saying he'd be back if they didn't close up shop. Terrified, they did so, thereby proving that only Hugh can prevent florist friars.

9.    Mahatma Gandhi, as you know, walked barefoot most of the time, which produced an impressive set of calluses on his feet. He also ate very little, which made him rather frail and, with his odd diet, he suffered  from  bad breath.  This made him (Oh, dude, this is so bad, it's good…..) a super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis.

10. And finally, there was the person who sent ten different puns to friends, with the hope that at least one of the puns would make them laugh.  No pun in ten did. 

8.07.2014

1,000 Follower Cash Giveaway


So after being gone for almost a week and without internet I'm somewhat caught up. Although by somewhat I mean on the important things like reading blog posts and deleting emails not on other things like laundry and going through my probably 600 photos and video clips from the week. Thank goodness I have a totally jam packed weekend to get stuff done ....

Since things are still a little nuts and I figured they would be I thought it would be the perfect day to kick off my 1,000 follower giveaway. I got together with a couple lovely ladies to share with you some cold hard cash ... well more like cold, hard, computer money! Who doesn't love a PayPal giveaway?



a Rafflecopter giveaway

8.05.2014

Weird Al

This week one of my longest running favorite artists released a new parody! Seriously I want to scream every time I hear "Happy" right now but I think that this is a great parody. So many of the points Weird Al makes I'm sitting here yelling "YES! Thank you! So tacky!" Jack Black's entrance I'm seriously dying.


I've been a huge fan of Weird Al ever since my brother introduced me to him in grade school. First drawn in by the parodies of songs I loved I soon started to really appreciate and love his original songs as well. Before we get into all that let's take a few steps, well maybe a few decades, back. 

Southern California born, Weird Al started his musical career at the age of six when he took his first accordion lesson. The parody artists of the 1970's like Allan ShermanShel Silverstein, and Frank Zappa along with other sources like Monty Python and Mad Magazine provided inspiration for the budding artist. Weird Al's biggest inspiration would come from the Dr. Demento Radio Show. During a 1976 school visit Weird Al gave Dr. Demento a demo tape with his original and parody songs on the accordion who then promptly shared it on the radio. Just a couple of years later in 1979 with the Knack's "My Sharona" rocking the charts, Weird Al came up with his "My Bologna" parody that he sent again to Dr. Demento and it received a great response. 



After a 1980 guest spot on the Dr. Demento Show and then appearing on The Tomorrow Show for his first TV spot 1981 brought about Weird Al's first big tour as part of Dr. Demento's stage show. Meeting up with his future manager, Jay Levy, on the road then forming a band to record and perform more tunes. Just a few short years and hits later in 1985  The Compleat Al, a mockumentary about Weird Al (also starring and co-written by him!) was released. Followed up with UHF, one of my favorite movies, in 1989. Throughout the late 80's and early 90's Al and his band were still touring and making new(ish) music. 



The beginning of 1998 brought on a lot of changes for Weird Al. First was lasik to correct his myopia, then he bid farewell to his mustache. Al debuted the look on his 1999 released Running with Scissors album. Since then Weird Al has keep with the times and come out with parodies of such popular hits like "Whatever You Like", "Perform This Way" and "Word Crimes". 

Even though he's a total goof Weird Al will always have a special place in my playlist. Hopefully he will continue to make hilarious parodies for years to come and I can't wait to see what comes out of his mouth next.